Measuring and monitoring the mass of living cells in real time
|Long-term viability and monitoring of cells|
|Cell mass measurements allow groundbreaking discoveries|
Cells tightly regulate their mass and volume during development and homeostasis. Though this regulation is fundamental to proper functioning of the cell, it is so far poorly understood, mainly because tools available thus far can only reasonably determine the volume of spherical suspended cells (~1% population accuracy, ~20% single cell accuracy), not their mass and not under normal adherent growth conditions.
Together with Prof. Daniel J. Müller and Dr. David Martínez-Martín of the ETH Zürich, Nanosurf is developing the Cytomass Monitor. The Cytomass Monitor is able to measure the mass of even single adherent cells with 0.1% mass and 10‑ms temporal resolution.
The following video illustrates the general working principle of the Cytomass Monitor:
In brief: a cell is attached to the Cytomass Monitor's cantilever, which in turn is allowed to vibrate with very low amplitudes via photothermal-excitation. Cell mass can be derived with high accuracy, and can be monitored over long periods of time in physiological conditions.
An integrated solution that combines mass monitoring with optical microscopy and long-term cell cultivation
Reproduced with permission of David Martínez‑Martín and Nature
The Cytomass Monitor is the only research tool currently available that allows the recording of time-lapse mass measurements in physiological conditions, while simultaneously conducting fluorescence and/or differential interference contrast microscopy in order to link cell mass dynamics to cell morphology and state.
All images reproduced with permission of David Martínez‑Martín and Nature
The Cytomass Monitor allows novel research in the fields of cell mass or volume regulation, cell migration, cell nutrition, cell division and cell cycle progression, fat cell storage and metabolism, viral infection-related processes, ion channel properties, drug screening for drugs targeting pathways linked to cell growth, new therapies for cancer, aging, obesity, type 2 diabetes, neurodegeneration, and other diseases linked to a deregulation of growth control.
In their recent Nature publication, Martínez-Martín et al. observed that the mass of living mammalian cells intrinsically fluctuates by around 1–4% over timescales of seconds throughout the cell cycle. Perturbation experiments link these mass fluctuations to the basic cellular processes of ATP synthesis and water transport. It was also shown that growth and cell cycle progression are arrested in cells infected with vaccinia virus, but that mass fluctuations continue until cell death. Their measurements suggest that all living cells show fast and subtle mass fluctuations throughout the cell cycle.
The technology is accurate and fast, capable of measuring the mass of even single adherent cells with 0.1% mass and 10‑ms temporal resolution, as is illustrated by the experimental data shown above.
At the forefront of science
Interested in becoming a Cytomass Monitor pioneer yourself? Then contact us now to be among the first researchers to obtain access to this unique instrument, which provides new insights into the most fundamental processes in cell biology.
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